The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed 12 more cases of Chikungunya from samples taken in East Berbice, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported yesterday.
Two weeks ago the mosquito-borne virus had surfaced in Guyana and two people tested positive—a toddler and a woman said to be in her forties, from Cumberland and Canefield, Canje, Berbice, respectively.
Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsaran said the discovery was made after some of the 130 blood samples sent to the CARPHA returned positive, GINA said. He stated that a case definition was established for the disease and based on this hospitals took samples from patients who signs of the symptoms.
The release stated that the 12 cases were from New Amsterdam and Port Mourant, indicating that the disease has spread further across the region while noting that an additional 82 suspected cases were identified by the New Amsterdam Hospital.
This, the release said, resulted in the Ministry heightening its Vector Control Services (VCS) in the region, placing emphasis on fogging and spraying. These efforts will be further enhanced through an expansion in the team and more work done with regards to spraying and fogging.
Director of Vector Control Services Dr. Reyaud Rahman was reported as saying by GINA that the team which was sent to Berbice is fully equipped and has been involved in mist blowing and abatement.
The release added that Ramsaran said the Ministry was working closely with the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and the Regional Executive Officers (REO) in a collaborative effort to help to curtail the spread of the disease countrywide.
The ministry has already identified the ports of entry for strict monitoring. Health centres have been alerted and have available medication for the effective treatment of any vector borne disease.
The release said that there was no trace of the disease in West Berbice, but Region Five was alerted and has shown great cooperation in the fight.
Chikungunya has been raising alarm in the Caribbean since it was first detected in the eastern Caribbean late last year. The virus is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito and causes severe joint pains, headaches, spiking fevers, muscle pains and vomiting, mimicking symptoms of dengue fever. The symptoms surfaces four to seven days after being infected by the mosquito and disintegrates within a week. Health officials has since reported that the virus is not deadly however there is no vaccine or cure for it.
Recently the Pan-American Health Organization reported more than 55,000 suspected and confirmed cases in the Caribbean.
Reports also surfaced that there were cases of several deaths. The World Health Organization – International Health Regulations (WHO-IHR) has so far confirmed one death in St. Martin.
In February, the numbers were up to 1400 cases and have since risen tremendously. There were traces of the virus in Anguilla, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, Saint Maarten, Haiti, and St. Martin. It is estimated that over 5,500 Haitians were stricken by the virus.